Performing Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most challenges the myth that certain people perform well under pressure. The truth is pressure degrades our judgment, decision making ability, attention, and dexterity.
The authors provide practical advice how you can depressurize the situation to enhance your performance. The essence of the book is summed up in the following sentence, “Since it is impossible to live a life without pressure, the key is to negotiate your reactions to it – to gain insight into how pressure affects you and puts you to risk, and then to learn techniques of pressure management” (p. 29).
The book is divided into three sections. Part 1 examines the nature and science of pressure. The authors differentiate between pressure and stress. This section also discusses the anatomy of “choking” investigating its causes and effects.
Part 2 in my opinion is worth the price of the book. The authors present twenty-two helpful solutions on how to handle pressure situations. This section is filled with practical advice and reminders how you can gain perspective when dealing with pressure.
The heart of the book is Part 3 as the authors present their model of how to perform well under pressure. They advocate putting on your COTE of armor which is an acrostic for Confidence, Optimism, Tenacity, and Enthusiasm. Each section provides scientific research, practical illustrations, and exercises to you develop these characteristics in your life.
Many of their recommendations have research supporting their claims; however, some of the recommendations are the author’s opinions. For example, they make the following claim, “Accept and embrace the notion that, all in all, the world is fair” (p. 220). The problem is some of their examples specifically refute this assertion. A few pages later as they present an example of unfairness they conclude, “They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time” (p. 234). If you expect the world to be fair and it’s not then you become disappointed, but if you realize that life is difficult then you’re better able to cope with life’s unfairness.
Anyone facing pressure situations will find many practical tips for performing well under pressure. The Apostle James gives us practical advice when facing difficult situations,
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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